Sunday, August 9, 2009

Allen Wayne Damron

Not long ago I posted a question about a Texas singer/songwriter named Allen Wayne Damron. Nobody offered any information about him or where to find his music, but I found it on my own by contacting Canadian River Music. The enterprise is in the process of shutting down, it appears, but they were able to sell two things I wanted: a CD entitled "Allen Wayne Damron: 35 Years--More of Not the Same," and a cassette tape (no CDs available) entitled "Allen Wayne Damron: 35 Years" (the latter being the precursor to the former.

The albums are, as the names suggest, compilations of Damron's music from a significant portion of his career, but they don't cover it all. The CD was originally copyrighted in 1983 and Damron died at his home in Terlingua, Texas at age 66 in 2005. He had a lot more music in him between those recordings and the time he died, but I don't know much about that time. In fact, I don't know much about Damron, other than what little I've learned since one of my brothers told me about seeing him play at The Camp Street Cafe and Store in Crockett, Texas a few years ago, probably not long before Damron's death. (Photo Credit: Texas Music History Online)

Damron was the same age as my oldest brother and at least the early part of his life was simliar to that of my two oldest brothers. He lived in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, like we did, and tells stories in some of his music about life along (on both sides of) the border. I found a very informative biographical sketch about him that I'd like to keep readily accessible. I didn't realize that he was one of the founders of the Kerrville Folk Festival, nor that he had performed with Lyle Lovett and Steve Fromholz on Austin City Limits. There's plenty more I did not know about the man...after all, I did even know of him until recently.

18 comments:

Kathi D said...

I found a couple of other Damrons (Michael and Dick) on i-Tunes. Wonder if they are related? How did you hear about him in the first place? It sounds like music I would enjoy, too. I grew up desperately trying to sleep late, while my dad blasted his country music radio, which drove me mad. Now it's my favorite music. Sheesh.

Kathi D said...

Doh. I see where you heard about him. I was so anxious to find some of his music, I skimmed.

Jason! said...

Allen Wayne Damron was a frequent visitor to my grandfather's house back when he was growing up. I had known him, but not well, since he was on the road quite a bit. But I remember stories about him, and the trouble he would get into growing up in Raymondville, both of our hometown.

He will be missed. If you never saw him live, or had any of his albums, you don't know what you're missing. He was a true cowboy poet/storyteller. And a VERY nice guy. Always had time to come up and say hi to us and visit a bit whenever we saw him, no matter how busy he was.

Anonymous said...

I just acquired a SIGNED copy of Allen Wayne Damron 35 years CD in like new condition. If you are interested I will be posting it on Amazon.com

Anonymous said...

You can checkout the Fans of Allen Wayne Damron group on Facebook for some A. Wayne links and comments.

Charles said...

While looking around to see if Allen still had a site with CD's available I stumbled across your site. I knew Allen (though I doubt he would have remembered me other than as "the guy that kept requesting the Dead Cat song".) His recorded music was good, but Allen was a performer. He described himself as " an entertainer, not a musician!".

His forte was playing to an audience, and a small venue was even better! He could take control of a rowdy bar and actually get the drunks to listen!! At the same time he could read the audience and give them what they want. In one case that was stopping performing while the bar watched to see if we were still in the NCAA running. He said it was the only time he got paid to watch a basketball game.

He was always open to help aspiring musicians (even hopeless ones like me!) with a couple free lessons when he toured through town, and a number of professional musicians can thank Allen for dropping a word in the right ear or a needed introduction.

Besides the music, he was an avid amateur historian and was one of the cast of the Alamo movie that was played at the Alamo in San Antonio, TX. He loved being able to give an impromptu, history lesson by explaining how an Indian Spirit whistle was so far ahead of it's time, or the advantages of the historic suede clothes of the early pioneers. Several of his songs came with a history lesson as he introduced the song by talking about the early Texas Rangers, or what life was like for the soldiers in the Texas war for Idepedence or the Civil War.

His love of history carried over into a love or firearms (an aspect of him that some of his fans were uncomfortable with. He loved to shoot historic weapons, but he also had his favorite ranges and at least in El Paso you could frequently find him during the day at one of the rifle ranges on the outskirts of town.

He was elected as an official state representative for the Texas Sesquicentennial, and complained for years that he ended up spending the year touring for the state rather home celebrating! He was very proud of the apparently very favorable response he recieved when he toured Irland, but he admitted to fears before he went because he wasn't sure of the response he'd get to some of his "Irish" songs.

I only had a chance to see him a couple times a year or maybe 3 (playing bars in El Paso and the years I made it to Kerrville for the Folk Festival) but I really miss him still.

You're very lucky to get some of his music. I'm afraid that his music is on the verge of going away. As far as I can tell, none of his music is still in print, and the couple of sites that still have anything are selling stock on hand. This is one of those places that the copyright laws are screwing people. No-one's can make a profit off music that isn't for sale, but the current laws keep it illegal to share his music (though if I found a site to download from, I would).

Randy said...

Is there a way to find any of his music today? I had an album of his and his song Heaven for Balloons has been rolling around inside my head for 30+ years. I heard him in concert when I was in college (1977-1981) and bought the album. His version of Mr. Bojangles would make you cry. He sang El Paso and made it funny. I still remember the album cover (three pictures of him holding swords as I recall) and a quote on it. I remember recognizing the quote (even though he didn't cite the reference) and asked him about it at the concert. It was from a SciFi novel and that's what convinced me to buy the album - a great voice, a great story teller and a SciFi fan.

Charles said...

@Randyc The last timei looked, the record company (now out of business) has some old stock ofa couple of his albums that they would sell. Other than threat, try and find someone that will let you copy what they have.
Unfortunately, most of his recordings were cassette tape, which hasa relatively short life span. I'm afraid much of hits stuff may be lost.

I lost most of mine when the basement flooded. And would LIVE to locate copies if anyone has any. There really should be exceptions to the copy right laws for work that's on the verge of being lost.

Randy said...

I found my album "The Old Campaigner". Now I need a way to play it. I know what I'm going to ask Santa to bring me.

On this album, it's titled "The Balloon Song" by Mike Williams. Other places (Myspace), I've seen it titled "Heaven for Balloons." I'd gladly pay for a good copy if I could find one.

Song 1 on the album I have is titled "Muddy Boggy Banjo Man." Do you know if that's his rendition of Mr. Bojangles? I loved the way he did it.

Charles said...

I founda possible location for some of his stuff. http://www.angelfire.com/folk/canadianriver/CRMdef16.html has stuff available as of May2011. I don't know if they are around, but a post on that page said they just got some more Cds in, andI think that was the May post.

Springer Kneeblood said...

Charles, thanks for the comment and the link. I think that's the link where I found the CD and tape I bought a while back...but it looks like there's a lot more there now.

Texas Dave McGarry. Moruya, Australia said...

I was a friend of Allen's, and discovered his music while living in Australia (it's a long story). Allen gave me one of his 'Texas Hatters' hats, along with a rattlesnake vest (I told you it was a long story, haha). I own many, many AD records, tapes, etc. He was the BEST of the BEST! RIP Allen. True Texas Troubadour.

Springer Kneeblood said...

Thanks to all of you who have posted, recently and awhile ago. I don't read all the comments immediately, but I DO read them and I appreciate all of them.

Anonymous said...

I did an interview with Allen on my radio show and I'd say without hesitation that he was one of the best interviews I've done. He was an excellent storyteller and entertainer and his music was a staple of my program. I have cds that he sent me for airplay and I used them often. I still have the recorded interview and have played it for my own enjoyment several times. He was a treasure and I miss our visits.

Jo Hargrave
Keepin' It Cowboy
Cowboy Camp Meetin'
Cyril, Ok

Anonymous said...

I met Allen in Austin in 1964.
It was a time never to be forgotten in Austin. Janis Joplin, Jerry Jeff, Jim Stafford, Big Bill Moss. Dow Patterson and Hondo Crouch, Ray Wiley, Kenneth Threadgill. I was a single mother and a college student trying to keep bread on the table by day and going to hear Allen sing every night. There was a lot of booze and a lot of singing along with him by the crowd. Some of the crowd favorites were the acapella, "Irish Cobblers Song" where he played his shoe, "The Ballade of Cisco Houston", "Nancy Whisky", "Ft. Worth I love You", and "Jalisco" and When I walked into the 11th Door he would grin and wave and the very next song would be Nancy Whiskey. I loved him as a friend and as a beautiful person. He was good to everyone and with that grin and his dimples. He made many hearts skip a beat.
I usually stayed at the club until Allen finished for the night. Sometimes he would drive me home if I hadn't come with anyone and I had had too much to drink, which happened too often.. He did not like for me to walk down Red River by myself. There were frequent parties at various houses on weekends and one weekend my married sister went to one of them with me. She and Allen became friends that night. He thought her name was really neat. Peggy O'Neal They sang "When Irish eyes are smiling" and "that's Peggy O'Neal" together. Twenty years later she was still going to hear him sing in Lubbock and in Midland
A couple of years before he died she saw him at a show in Midland and greeted him for me. When he found I was not there he sent me a picture that said something like, "I'll forgive you this time but you better be here the next time.
I got married in 1966 and life piled up on me. That summer there was a shooter on the UT Tower who killed a lot of people. I was on my way to meet my cousin on campus when a policeman stopped me. I don't know if Allen went to the campus while the shooting was going on but Big Bill Moss grabbed has pistol and a shotgun and headed to Quadalupe where he hid behind a traffic barrier and fired at the Tower. It was funny if it had not been so crazy scary. Here is a big black man in jeans and a red pair of long johns, shading his face with a black cowboy hat and shooting at a crazy white segregationis
I saw Allen at Sneaky Pete's and at Spring Fling in Wichita Falls a few times. I spoke with him about the good ole days and introduced my children to him. He sang "Nancy Whisky" for me and pretended he remembered my Daughter and I but the time was gone and would not return.
I do know that there are many performers, from Carolyn Hester to Jerry Jeff. to Wiley Hubbard and Tim Henderson who learned a lot from Allen. he helped everyone who came his way. He would teach you a song or show you a cord or let you come on stage and sing. He was never selfish with his time. I don't know how he did all of the things he did. He taught guitar lessons, went to schools to perform his history classes, taught gun safety, scuba dived and spear fished in Lake Travis and played every club around. He had boundless energy and I think it came from his love of life and of people.
I'm so glad he had a happy life with his wife and son. He was much to young to die. NancyO

Anonymous said...

I stumbled on this site looking for a particular song that Allen used to sing. Allen was a heck of an entertainer, and a heck of a man. He was a good friend for many years. I had the honor of officiating at his final marriage-- the one that stuck! I was also honored to emcee the tribute for him at the Kerrville Folk Festival. It's hard to believe that he's been gone for eight years. Every time I go to the festival, it's like he could walk into the campsite and pick up right where we left off. This year, Rod Kennedy (the founder) and Steven Fromholtz have joined Allen among the ever present background of that annual gathering. I think of "Bob Dylan's Dream"-- "if we could sit simply in that room once again... ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat... I'd give it all gladly if life could be like that."

Walter Lee

Randy said...

I met Damron when I was a college student circa 1979. He did a concert in a small venue, I think I paid 50cents to get in. Loved his music. His rendition of Mr. Bojangles will make you cry.

Somewhere, I have a signed album of his.

Would love to find a CD of his music, especially if it had Mr. Bojangles and the Balloon Song. Would also like to find out if anyone else ever covered the Balloon Song. I used to sing it to my kids.

Randy said...

Browsing through the comments I see I asked the same question in 2011. I guess I get a twinge in my heart everytime I see comments about him..